For an episode titled, “Do No Harm,” there was certainly a lot of harm being done this week. From the benign- Rollo’s encounter with a skunk- to the far more severe, no one will escape unscathed. This episode features far more action than last week, and the effects of everyone’s actions this week will be felt throughout the rest of the season. Let’s take a closer look at everyone’s wounds via our “skins and swords” rating system.
**Spoiler Warning! The following recap may contain spoilers from episode 402. Do not read further if you have not seen the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.**
Skin Score: 7/10. The episode starts on an emotional note, with Jamie mourning the death of Lesley, and it ends on an even more tragic death. The gang arrives at River Run and meet Aunt Jocasta. She is both exactly what we expected, and nothing like we expected. She’s a strong independent Scotswoman who controls a thriving plantation and is doing it without most of her sight. But she doesn’t need to see them clearly to get the full measure of Jamie and Claire almost instantly.
Claire is really the driving force of the episode this week. While Young Ian gets a valuable lesson in de-skunking a dog (& wooing the local women), she gets right to work overstepping the local social customs. First, she asks the chambermaids, Freda and Mary, call her by her first name. Then she speaks out about the evils of slavery to anyone who will listen. Jocasta checks this behavior once she and Claire are alone together, cautioning Claire to speak carefully in this new world. She softens the correction by assuring Claire that she’d have made a fine McKenzie woman.
Jocasta throws a party for all the local planters. She uses the opportunity to name Jamie as her heir, knowing that he won’t refuse the offer in such company. This drives a wedge between Jamie and Claire, as Jamie wants to take over his family’s land but Claire cannot abide the idea of becoming a slaveowner. Last season, Jamie and Claire purchased a slave and then freed him within the same day. Perhaps they can do the same thing on a much larger scale. Jamie seeks advice from Lieutenant Wolfe on how to go about such a thing. Wolfe becomes irrationally angry, insisting that both the legality is insurmountable and that Jamie and Claire would be invoking the wrath of all their neighbors by even attempting it. Before they can come to any sort of final decision, all manner of hell breaks loose.
Sword Score: 8/10. A slave attacks one of the white overseers and Jamie is called to act as Jocasta’s representative. He takes Claire with him, as she can offer medical aid to the wounded man. When they arrive in the woods, they find the overseer, Mr. Burns, missing an ear. But it is the man who attacked him who is faring much worse. The other overseers have driven an iron hook into his side and are hoisting him into the air. Jamie orders the man, whose name is Rufus, released. Claire rushes Rufus back to the house and operates to remove the hook and save the man’s life. She is successful, but there are far greater forces at play.
Claire and Jamie’s decision to aid Rufus instead of Mr. Burns bring the wrath of the fellow white planters down upon them. Just one day after toasting Jamie’s inheritance, their deliveries from torchesanndpitchforks.com arrive and they’re at Jocasta’s door again. They demand that either Rufus is delivered to them to deal with, or Jamie is delivered in his stead.
This forces Claire into an impossible decision. She has just saved Rufus’s life, but he still faces an almost certain death in the eyes of the law. All Claire can do now for him is ensure that he is given the most peaceful death possible. She mixed arsenic into a cup of tea for him and he gently drifts off to sleep before passing away. His body is handed over the slavers as they demand, and it is brutalized. But thanks to Claire’s actions, Rufus is beyond feeling pain. Instead, it is Jamie and Claire who will be feeling the repercussions of their actions for a long time yet.
Outlander airs on Sundays at 8 pm. Fans can catch up anytime on Starz.com and the Starz mobile app. Be sure to check back here to Fanfest.com each week for episode previews and full episode recaps.